Childhood is a time filled with adventure, exploration and growth. However, these years of discovery are also home to the occasional dental problems — a climb on the jungle gym could end in a broken tooth, or a missed spot of plaque could result in a cavity.
Many of a kid’s dental problems are the same ones that affect adults, but your child’s teeth are still developing, and they’re softer and younger than their permanent successors. Untreated dental conditions can cause poor and misaligned tooth development, leading to more serious problems as a child grows up.
Understanding common pediatric dental problems and why they happen will help you and your child know how to prevent them. Here are the 10 most common dental problems for kids, along with how to prevent them from developing.
1. Tooth Decay (Cavities)
Most young children aren’t proficient at brushing and flossing without supervision. Coupled with the fact that some kids might have a sugar-heavy diet, cavities can become a major issue. The acid in the plaque essentially eats away at the enamel, eventually wearing away at the tooth.
Parents should supervise and help children brush their teeth until they can firmly grasp and control a toothbrush on their own. Making sure your kids are removing plaque, bacteria, and food particles from their teeth every day will help prevent early tooth decay. If a cavity does develop, the typical treatment is a tooth filling, which involves drilling away the decay and filling the hole with a hard composite material.
2. Tooth Sensitivity
Sensitive teeth are a dental problem can be uncomfortable and distracting, often disrupting your child’s focus and routine. Some of the different things that can cause your child’s teeth to feel sensitive include:
- Areas of decay (cavities)
- Newly erupted permanent teeth
- Acid erosion and enamel wear
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- A cracked or missing filling
- Orthodontic treatment
In the case of sensitive teeth, there’s a variety of treatments that can help reduce the pain and discomfort that your child is experiencing. If the sensitivity is caused by a dental-related problem, such as a cavity, you should see your dentist right away to prevent the issue from becoming worse.
3. Dental Emergencies
It is a dental problem that can happen at virtually any time. Kids playing sports, roughhousing with siblings, or falling while riding a bike are all scenarios in which a dental-related accident can happen. These accidents can result in teeth chipping, breaking, or cracking. In more severe circumstances, a permanent tooth may be knocked out completely.
If your child’s permanent tooth does fall out, immediately call the dentist for an emergency appointment and retrieve the tooth. Place the tooth in a glass of milk, saline solution, or clean water. The dentist may be able to place the permanent tooth back into the socket, allowing it to reattach with the help of a retainer.
4. Pediatric Gingivitis and Gum Disease
You may have thought that gum diseases are dental problems only seen in adults. Unfortunately for parents, this is not the case. Gingivitis and gum disease can occur in children and are actually quite common in pediatric dental patients. Gingivitis is the precursor to gum disease, and it’s often marked by red, swollen gums, and slight bleeding when your child brushes or flosses.
Gum disease is more aggressive in children with poor oral hygiene. It often involves pain in the mouth, gum recession, and areas of swelling. In most cases, gingivitis and gum disease could have been avoided if more care was taken to brush and floss daily. In other instances, your child’s teeth may grow in so crooked and crowded that they cannot properly clean their teeth, resulting in areas of gingivitis or gum disease.
5. Orthodontic Problems
Children rarely have perfectly straight teeth without any intervention. Luckily, there are many orthodontic treatments available to help your child or teen smile with confidence. Orthodontic problems are often a result of genetics, with the size and shape of the jaw playing a role in how your child’s teeth grow and come together. Some common misalignment issues seen in children include an overbite, underbite, open bite, and spacing problems.
It’s a good idea to have your child in for their first orthodontic appointment around the age of seven or eight. Orthodontic problems can mean more than just a crooked smile. Significant overcrowding and misalignments of your child’s teeth can result in jaw problems, cracked teeth, and oral hygiene issues.
6. Excessive Thumb Sucking
Many infants, toddlers, and small children resort to thumb-sucking and pacifier use as a means to soothe anxiety. It doesn’t really become a dental problem until the child is older and still continues with this habit as prolonged thumb sucking can cause issues with the way a child’s teeth develop. Because of this, parents should not allow the habit to continue past the toddler stage.
Most often, chronic thumb sucking and pacifier use can cause what is known as an open bite. An open bite is when the upper front teeth don’t come together with the lower front teeth, leaving a gap even when the mouth is closed. This can make it difficult for your child to bite and chew, and can even affect their speech.
7. Dental Anxiety and Phobias
Let’s face it, many adults are nervous when it comes to visiting the dentist. So it’s no surprise that kids and teens are often fearful of the experience as well. Dental anxiety can make it challenging to get your child in for their routine dental checkups and teeth cleanings. It can also stay with them into adulthood, affecting their dental health in significant ways.
The best way to combat dental anxiety in children is to make the experience relaxed, fun, and enjoyable. Choose a pediatric dentist that has experience working with anxious kids and has a process in place to help them. In addition, teaching your children the importance of dental care and making it a part of their routine can help in reinforcing the notion that they shouldn’t be scared.
This involuntary habit is seen in most babies and toddlers. Children may clench or grind their teeth due to some discomfort in their jaws when their primary teeth start to emerge. However, children stop doing this after their teeth develop. But some children may continue grinding their teeth and risk the chances of eroding their tooth enamels. This can result in tooth decay or even sensitive tooth.
9. Bad Breath
Also known as halitosis, bad breath can affect anyone, regardless of their age. However, chronic bad breath in children could indicate a deeper root issue than eating stinky foods.
bad breath could be an indicator
Halitosis is ultimately caused by bacteria that live in the mouth. These bacteria colonies feed on leftover food, fluid and plaque — as they eat, they produce hydrogen sulfide, which leads to a bad smell in the mouth. As with adults, bad breath is most common in children in the morning, after they wake up. During the night, bacteria multiply in the mouth, leading to a case of “morning breath.” However, if your child’s bad breath persists throughout the day, it probably indicates a larger issue.
Gum problems, poor oral hygiene and dry mouth are the most common culprits behind halitosis, but other issues such as chronic sinusitis, diabetes, tooth decay and digestive problems can also lead to bad breath. Sometimes, the way medication breaks down in the body could produce abnormal-smelling breath.
Proper dental hygiene is the best way to treat and prevent bad breath. An antibacterial mouthwash may help reduce any smells, and brushing the tongue could help fight bacteria in the mouth.
10. Baby Teeth Loss
For many children, the first loose tooth is an exciting sign — the tooth fairy may make a visit soon, and their small “baby tooth” will soon be replaced by a “grown-up” one. Tooth loss is a natural stage of development. The first lost tooth is usually one of the middle front teeth, and it typically loosens around the age of six. Generally, molars aren’t lost until a child is between 10 and 12, and most children have their full set of 28 permanent teeth by the time they’re 13 years old.
For many children, losing their primary or “baby” teeth is painless. However, if it refuses to fall out or is causing the kid pain, it might be time to consult your dentist.
Most loose teeth are a result of the eruption of a permanent tooth underneath the primary one, but some are due to injury or trauma to the tooth before it’s ready to come out. Go to a certified dentist if your child’s tooth is loose before it should be — they’ll try everything they can to save the tooth so that the permanent teeth will develop properly.
We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. Growing Smiles is a pediatric dentist in Anna, Richardson, Plano, Garland, Murphy we have Pediatric Services in Texas: Early Childhood Care, Preventive Care, General Treatments, Sedation Dentistry, Special Needs Dentistry, Emergency Service and Orthodontic (Braces & Invisalign) For more information call us to answer all of your questions so get an appointment today.